Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Hey there Toby, how's the wife? Job going okay? Hey if you don't mind my asking how are the titatnium bolts in your jaw doing?"

I went in to the dental hospital for the 10th time yesterday to get my stitches out. It was the second time I've ever had stitches in my gums, the first time was when a dentist in the states drew these same three teeth about a week before my wedding.

I remember those extractions well for two reasons: one was the fact that, not having insurance, I had called the dentist beforehand to ask what three extractions would cost. After performing the extractions, however, I heard him mumble to his assistant "Mary this was a surgical," and a few minutes later his office explained that since I had needed two sutures this three-minute procedure was a 'surgical extraction' costing three times the stated price.

The second reason I recall the extractions well was because I got really upset at Sara for saying I had "bloody drool" in my beard. My position was, it's coming out of my mouth, of course it's got drool in it. we don't say "yeah he got really sick and now there's vomitty drool everywhere."

Not really sure where I was going with this...


Monday, January 28, 2008

First day of Chinese Class

Oh man you guys I just had my first 2 hour Chinese class and it was AWESOME. Pin Yin pronunciation, nervousness, trying to read really fast, and the quiet sense of accomplishment that I was the best student in remedial Chinese 1A.

Sara came too, and we ate the worst sushi of our lives.

But they did make a snickers bar roll that was delicious.

Of course once I realized that it was a snickers bar I had to stop with that piece because I can't eat nuts with the implants.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sea Turtles in the Shanghai Zoo

Here is the wisdom I promised you.

Cleaning the walls on Mt. Putou

Winter is the off season so people were doing things like this: taking down all the wall panels and scrubbing them. Some monasteries were totally surrounded by construction.


For the first time ever, I got to call up Tucker, wish him happy birthday, and have it be my birthday AT THE SAME TIME.

Thank you international date line! You've destroyed the weekend for for thousands of working Chinese business people, but at least I'm always ahead of the game, calling people on my christmas morning while they're still making conversation on Christmas eve. Also I get to sound all self important talking to my mom on her Sunday afternoon: "well this is great and all P.Z., but I've got to get to work today."

Devon, I was just going through a thing where I was feeling like I was letting all my friendships wither and die, thank you so much for getting in touch. We've got a guest bedroom here (a hotel is the only thing that costs anything in dollar terms) and we'd love to see you. Sara could show you the imperial museum, I could show you the craziest mall in the world, and we could all go see a panda, which let me tell is pretty neat.

They really do look lazy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I don't do too much of this

But there are some images too good to pass up, a poster on the Beijing subway.

I am so great, I am so great, I am so great, I am so great

Birthdays with few friends about can be a sad, gimcrack affair. But this year I'm living and Beijing and our two social friends are out of town, so even the artifice of a party is denied me. I have the advantage, however, of having things to be quite pleased about today that have little connection to the calendar.

1) we just got back from an amazing trip to the Chinese holy site/Buddhist disneyland, Putoushan island.

2) on said trip, I saw five sea turtles at the shanghai zoo. Seeing a see turtle swimming six inches away on the other side of a pane of glass is one of those experiences that doesn't disappoint.

3) tomorrow I go to sign up for 2-4 hour Mandarin classes every day for the next four weeks. I realized on my trip that I had all the Chinese a rude foreigner needs, and if I was going to progress beyond "una cerveza mas, por favor," I needed to get me in some school.

4) this school costs 12 yuan (2 dollars) an hour to attend in a class of 10-20

5) I'm going to spend this afternoon going through a list of friends I have made no effort to contact since I got here. Sara actually talks to her friends on the phone while I've done nothing so extravagant in the last 5 months. So that's gotta change.

So look, don't worry if you didn't get me a present.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ice Cubes

My gum is swollen around the site of my implants. The three titanium studs went in yesterday and the flesh around the area is still quite upset at the intrusion. Following doctors orders, I'm cooling the site with an ice cube.

An odd thought occurs to me as I swirl one of the only icecubes in Beijing around my mouth. Some odd association I can't quite place until it hits me.

Ice used to hurt like hell.

When the teeth in my mouth were cracked and broken, a glass of ice water was agony. I had developed this special technique of curling my lips around my teeth as I drank. If a piece of popsicle broke off in my mouth I had to balance it right on the center of my tongue to avoid stabs of pain from my teeth. Even worse, if I drank something very cold, the teeth would hurt again a few minutes later as they warmed back up.

Ice water is quite rare in Beijing. Soda and beer come to the table un-refrigerated and while western style restaurants do serve water it's either warm or boiling hot, the same water they'd use to make tea.

So this morning was the first time, holding an icecube to my angry gums, letting the frigid water trickle around my teeth, that I realize the pain is gone.


Some of Sara's students cuting it up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunflower seed

This our hamster, Cricket. I bought him at this amazing pet market near our house.

They have stag beetles, ferrets, dogs and cats, birds, squirrels, snakes, crickets, and mice to feed to the snakes. Also fish but who wants fish? And turtles.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Two of my students perform that song about Van Gogh for a Christmas party held on December 27th.
The other acts: Edeilweiss (sp?) and The RZA

I was very sad not to be able to stay for the whole thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Six weeks of break starts to day: I begin it fussy and careworn, worried about money. Paying to have titanium bolts screwed in to your jaw turns out to be expensive in any country. And I suppose the best doctor in the best hospital in beijing can't expected to be "cool" about your not having several thousand dollars to pay at the time of first exam. Even if he does have awesome sideburns (pictures later, you can see them around the surgical mask, awesome!).

Come hell or high water though we'll afford a trip to shanghai, and frankly having even the possibility of paying for dental implants is a releif after two years having very little to chew on and nothing to bite with.

Depression can be a powerful thing, and it's doubly tough when you're a little isolated, I won't like to deal with it destitute, but what with tutoring fees and a hoped-for end of term bonus I'm sure it won't come to that.

I am at least taking concrete steps, I emailed the leader of a knitting group last night, and tommorrow I'll look for a Magic Cards tournament (I know, super cool, right?).

Why oh why am I putting this on the internet?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

language centers

I remember my first days in Beijing, as I thought about what I would say to my first class, I found myself worrying how the hell I was going to explain myself in Spanish.

Storing languages learnt after puberty is a tricky business, and Spanish comes burbling up at the strangest times. I nearly said "cada dia" to the lady in the supermarket, and when I intentionally try to remember Spanish I find the articles replaced with "wo," "ta" and "ni" (me, he/she/it, and you, respectively). Luckily articles are pretty much the only thing that suffers from this insidious substitution, as the grammar is so much simpler in chinese that few other structures look anything alike.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hi mom! House tour.

In response to the frequent requests of one of our readers, here is a tour of our apartment. Zach, just let this one roll on by. Mom, you're welcome, thinking of you, get better soon!

This was taken before Christmas, we still haven't taken down the tree though.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

scratching my neeeeck

my lifelong desire to have neck-scratching in a video on the internet has now been fulfilled.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

a world without copyright

some good things happen. Sorry if this photo is a little unclear, you can only take so many photos of a woman from behind on the street before there's... unpleasantness. Click to see the full size glory.

Hey for all you worried that I haven't seen "I Am Legend" yet, don't worry, the copy I bought out of a suitcase tonight turned out not to be a screencap, and it was nice and scary.

"The Golden Compass," however, was a screencap, so you've still got that to worry about.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Duck slicin'

they deliver a little plate of duck "pieces" arranged around the head and leg. Lately the restaurant near our house has been serving darker, greasier, smokier meat.

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